Most NFL teams have a firm idea of who will start at the game’s most important position by Week 3 of the preseason.
However, with just 17 days until the Broncos’ season-opener against the Carolina Panthers, Denver’s starting quarterback spot is wide open.
The Broncos took a hit at quarterback this offseason, shortly after winning the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning retired and Brock Osweiler joined the Houston Texans, leaving the Broncos to scramble to trade for Mark Sanchez and draft Paxton Lynch.
Now, Sanchez, Lynch, and last year’s third-stringer, Trevor Siemian, are in a three-way race for the starter’s job, and the results have been less than encouraging.
Siemian began to emerge as the favourite to start months ago, and thus far, may still hold an edge. While his performance has been solid in preseason, he still has a way to go, however. After a solid first drive in a Week 2 loss to the 49ers, Siemian badly missed wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, leading to a 49ers pick six.
Though Siemian has largely played well in preseason, he has yet to throw a pass in regular-season action. Do the defending Super Bowl champions want to roll with a second-year quarterback with, essentially, no experience?
They may have to, as the other options aren’t much more appealing. Sanchez disappointed in his second preseason game, going 10-17 for 120 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. However, he twice fumbled in the red zone while getting sacked. Sanchez is the most known quantity the Broncos have at quarterback, but his penchant for turnovers is troubling.
Lynch, who the Broncos traded up to take with the 26th pick, has also performed impressively, but from an experience standpoint, seems less capable than Siemian. During Sunday’s loss, Lynch went 15-26 with two touchdowns and an interception. While the rookie is an intriguing option — and perhaps the future at the position for the Broncos — head coach Gary Kubiak doesn’t sound ready to commit to him.
“I think I’ve continued to tell you guys that [Lynch] is behind the others from a knowledge standpoint as far as running the group,” Kubiak said (via Mike Klis of 9 News) Obviously, we need to keep coming, keep bringing him along. We’re going to keep working here, find the guy that we think is best for our football team and go from there.”
It’s hardly an ideal situation. While Siemian still seems to be the favourite, Klis said Lynch’s play makes it a competition. However, as Sports Illustrated’s Peter King describes it, it’s hardly a thrilling race:
“What Kubiak has to determine in the next two weeks is whether he wants a mistake-prone quarterback (Sanchez) or a rookie quarterback (Lynch) or an inexperienced guy who’s made one major error this preseason (Siemian) to take the snap opening night.”
The Broncos got by last season on the rapidly declining play of Manning and the inexperience of Osweiler. Their defence again seems poised to help them win games, but the promise of another year of lacklustre offence takes some shine off the defending champs.
Kubiak added of the competition, “I foresee myself trying to find a way to fix some mistakes. I’m going to take it a day at a time.”
With the NFL regular season rapidly approaching, Kubiak is running out of days to make the unenviable decision.
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